Animal News from around the world

UK Bill Holds Promise

On Oct. 13, England and Wales introduced a bill to modernize animal welfare standards. The unprecedented measure requires owners of all vertebrate animals to provide a suitable environment and diet, the ability to express normal behavior, and freedom from pain and suffering. The Animal Welfare Bill would replace the Protection of Animals Act of 1911 and bring together over 20 additional pieces of legislation.

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Monsanto Invents Pig

Monsanto Corporation, notorious for pioneering the use of genetically engineered crops, has a new invention up its sleeve. Last February, it filed a patent application at the World Intellectual Property Organization—not only on pig breeding methods, but also on the actual herds of pigs it has created. Monsanto is infamous for not caring about the environment and this action proves it certainly does not care about the livelihood of most farmers. If a patent on Monsanto's pig breed is granted, the corporation can legally prevent farmers from breeding pigs who fit the description in the patent claims if they do not pay royalties. This type of corporate control could be devastating to independent family farms.

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Loss of a Staunch Crusader

Animal rights movement pioneer Ethel Thurston died in early January at the age of 94. For the last three decades of her life, she ran the American Fund for Alternatives to Animal Research and the company Beauty Without Cruelty—inspiring a new generation of activists and working to make the world a better place for animals.

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Otters Win Relocation Battle—For Now

Many otters from Southern California are swimming in "forbidden waters," despite relocation efforts made several years ago by a group of government biologists. The scientists moved the animals north from Anacapa Island to Monterey, Calif. under a federal plan to preserve the species and protect shellfish divers from natural competition. Yet within less than half a year, dozens of the otters had returned to their original habitat. Now the government may abandon its program to acknowledge the fact that the intelligent creatures will not stay within the boundaries imposed for them by man. Environmentalists are also pressing authorities to allow the otters to go where they want, hoping that it will help the species recover. Subjected to hunting over the years, the Southern California otter population has dwindled to about 2,700 animals.

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Legacy of Cruelty Continues at UCSF

To settle a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) legal complaint alleging 75 Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations, the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) agreed to pay a $92,500 fine in September, avoiding the presentation of evidence for federal violations in open court hearings. USDA claims the violations took place in UCSF animal research labs between 2001 and 2003 and included horrific acts such as performing a craniotomy on a monkey without post-surgical pain relief and performing surgery on a ewe and her fetus without post-surgical pain relief. A stipulated penalty of $2,000 was also paid in 2000 for other AWA violations, and the poor conditions in the university's labs have been documented since the 1980s. Several of the university's top investigators were cited as violators in this new case, yet UCSF has never formally admitted to the cruelty going on behind its laboratory doors—the first step in fixing this decades-old problem.